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Topsham fire chief tapped to head Brunswick department

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Topsham fire chief tapped to head Brunswick department

TOPSHAM — With approval expected from the Brunswick Town Council next week, Ken Brillant will be taking his fire department management skills across the river.

The Topsham fire chief’s nomination by Brunswick Town Manager Gary Brown to head the Brunswick Fire Department goes to a Brunswick Town Council vote on Monday, March 15.

Brillant, 37, is scheduled to start the Brunswick job on April 26.

“It’s a new challenge,” he said Monday. “It’s something that I’d hoped to do back when I got hired in Brunswick in ’92, and it’s had the opportunity to come around.”

The Topsham resident will replace Clark Labbe, who is retiring after 37 years with the Brunswick department, five of them as chief.

Brillant’s involvement with the Topsham Fire Department reaches back to his junior firefighter days in 1987, and continued even during his 12 years in the Brunswick Fire Department. He left Brunswick as a lieutenant to become Topsham’s fire chief in 2004.

Since then he has seen the department move from its former Green Street location to Topsham’s new municipal complex.

What he will miss most will be “the guys,” Brillant said. “I’ve been here a long time, grew up either with or under these people. I’ve had some really close friends on the department. … Twenty years of growing up with them; that’s probably going to be the toughest part.”

Emergency Medical Services Director Mike Labbe said he remembers Brillant as a teenager, riding his bicycle to work.

“I’m gonna miss him, because he’s a handy man to have around,” Labbe said.

Topsham Town Manager Jim Ashe echoed that sentiment.

“We’re going to be sorry to see him leave, because he does a great job for us,” Ashe said. “… He was a great decision for (Brunswick); I know he’ll do a good job for them.”

Topsham Assistant Town Manager Paul Caruso said on Wednesday that the town planned to begin advertising for Brillant's replacement in the next couple of days.

Brown worked with Brillant when Brown was town manager of Topsham. He said Monday that Brillant went through a “grueling” three-interview process.

“(Brillant) has experience, having worked in the Brunswick Fire Department,” Brown said. “So he has a good sense of the history of the department, he has a good sense of the individuals in the department, he has a great sense of the Brunswick community.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.